Teenagers Born With Hiv Tell Of Life Under Society’s Radar
Clive was nine years old when he discovered he was HIV positive. The devastating news that his mother, doctors and support workers had spent years preparing to break to him in the gentlest manner possible, was blurted out by a careless receptionist at his local hospital.
“My mum had bought me to see the doctor because I had earache, and this woman just read it out loud from my notes as she was typing my details into the computer,” says Clive, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week. “I remember standing there, with my mother’s hand around mine, as these feelings of complete confusion and fear washed over me.”
Clive credits the medication given to his mother during her pregnancy for protecting him then from her HIV infection. But, he says, something went catastrophically wrong at the point of delivery, and the infection was passed into his own bloodstream.
After that day at the hospital, however, Clive refused to take medication on his own behalf. “I suddenly realised that the pills my mum had been giving me every day that I had thought were sweeties were medicine,” he says. “After that day at the hospital, I would lock myself in the bathroom when my mum took them out of the cupboard. Or I’d pretend to swallow them, then throw them away.”
There are around 1,200 children like Clive in the UK and Ireland: young people living with perinatally acquired HIV, contracted from their mother in the womb, at the point of delivery or shortly after birth, while being breastfed.
Telling Health Professionals About Your Hiv Status
It is important to tell your doctor, obstetrician or midwife about your HIV status as early as you can .
Telling your health team, helps to talk through any concerns you may have and ensure you receive treatment before that suits your needs, and is safe throughout pregnancy and after your baby is born.
Also, if your medical team knows about your HIV status, they can take steps to minimise the risk of accidental transmission during any medical procedures.
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- HIV can pass from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth or via breastmilk.
- Due to treatment advances, mother to child transmission of HIV is very rare in Australia.
- With medical support, the HIV transmission rate from mother with HIV taking antiretroviral treatment to their unborn child is 1% or less in Australia.
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What Hiv Does To The Body
The virus attacks specific lymphocytes called T helper cells , takes them over, and multiplies. This destroys more T-cells, which damages the bodys ability to fight off invading germs and disease.
When the number of T-cells falls to a very low level, people with HIV become more susceptible to other infections and they may get certain types of cancer that a healthy body would normally be able to fight off. This weakened immunity is known as AIDS and can result in severe life-threatening infections, some forms of cancer, and the deterioration of the nervous system.
Although AIDS is always caused by an HIV infection, not everyone with HIV has AIDS. In fact, some adults who become infected with HIV may appear healthy for years before developing AIDS.
Can Hiv Be Transmitted Through Breast Milk
HIV-infected mothers should not breastfeed their infants in the United States because it can lead to increased risks of motherhood. While there are treatments available that reduce these dangers, they do nothing for male babies who may be exposed during pregnancy or birth without harming them at all since HIV antibodies will only last until delivery thus creating an opening where germs from infected bodily fluids could enter his bloodstreams via breastfeeding which would infect him too!One good thing I learned today you dont need any special techniques when caringtakeing your baby girl properly just make sure he/she gets enough clean food.
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Get Tested For Hiv As Soon As Possible To Know Your Status
- If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment the betterfor your health and your babys health and to prevent transmitting HIV to your partner.
- If you dont have HIV, but you or your partner engage in behaviors that put you at risk for HIV, get tested again in your third trimester.
- You should also encourage your partner to get tested for HIV.
How Is Hiv Diagnosed
Diagnosis of HIV infection during infancy depends on the detection of the virus. Since all infants born to HIV-infected mothers have a positive antibody test at birth because of the passive transfer of the HIV antibody across the placenta, virological testing is used to confirm the diagnosis.
For infants born to HIV-infected mothers, viral diagnostic testing is usually performed within the first 2 days of life, at 1 to 2 months of age, and at 4 to 6 months of age. A diagnosis of HIV infection can be made with two positive virologic tests obtained from different blood samples.
For children over 18 months, adolescents, or adults, diagnosis is made by testing the blood for the presence of HIV antibody.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
If you have been infected with HIV or are at risk of infection, you probably have some questions about the condition and how it can affect your baby.
You may find it helpful to jot down questions as they arisethat way, when you talk to your doctor, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Should I get tested for HIV?
- What can I do to prevent infection?
- Im infected. Is there any way to prevent passing it on to my baby?
- What steps can we take if my baby does get infected?
- Whats the long-term outlook for a baby with HIV?
Where To Get Help
- , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Palasanthiran P, Starr M, Jones C, Giles M 2014, Management of perinatal infections, Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases , Sydney.
- Recommendations for use of antiretroviral drugs in pregnant HIV-1-infected women for maternal health and interventions to reduce perinatal HIV transmission in the United States, 2017, Panel on treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women and prevention of perinatal transmission, AIDSinfo, USA.
- Antiretroviral drugs for treating pregnant woman and preventing HIV infection in infants Recommendations for a public health approach, 2010, World Health Organization.
- Perinatal exposure to HIV among children born in Australia, 19822006, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 190, no. 8, pp. 416420.
- Perinatal exposure to HIV in Australia, 1982-1994, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 166, no. 2, pp. 7780.
- Variable uptake of recommended interventions to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Australia, 1982-2005, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 189, no. 3, pp. 151154.
- Lindsay, M 2014, Women with HIV infection on antiretroviral therapy with low viral loads can safely opt for vaginal delivery in the absence of obstetrical risk factors, Evidenced-Based Medicine, vol 19, no. 4, p. 159.
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Hiv During Pregnancy And Childbirth
Women living with HIV who are on treatment and have a stable undetectable viral load are extremely unlikely to transmit HIV to their baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is a 1 in 1000 chance of transmitting HIV to the baby during pregnancy and delivery, when a woman is on antiretroviral treatment and has a viral load below 50 copies/ml .
HIV-positive women who are on treatment and have stable undetectable viral load, have a 1-2% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby if they breastfeed for 12 months.
So, although it is unlikely that a woman will transmit HIV to her baby when breastfeeding it is currently advised not to breastfeed.
Hiv And Planning A Family
, but for a woman who is HIV-positive, or who has a male partner with HIV, planning a family requires extra consideration.
If you are in this situation, seek professional advice and find out as much as you can before you become pregnant. It may help to talk the issues through with:
- The doctor who is treating you.
- Your HIV specialist, obstetrician or family planning specialist.
- The Chronic Viral Illness Clinic at Melbournes Royal Womens Hospital . CVI clinic staff are experienced and knowledgeable about HIV in pregnancy and can provide expert advice and assisted reproductive technology options for serodiscordant couples .
- A counsellor who specialises in this area.
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More About Hiv Transmission
When youre born with HIV, the virus was passed to you from your mother. But mother-to-child transmission is not the only way in which HIV is transmitted. More commonly, HIV is passed on via sex or by injecting drugs with shared injecting equipment.
Transmission is dependent on the HIV positive persons viral load if the viral load is undetectable, the virus cant be passed on.
Preventing Hiv And Aids
Prevention of HIV remains of worldwide importance. Despite much research, there is no vaccine that will prevent HIV infection. Infection can be prevented by never sharing needles, and abstaining from oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Since most people will eventually become sexually active at some point in their lives, always using condoms for all types of sexual intercourse can drastically reduce the risk of getting HIV.
Testing all pregnant women multiple times during pregnancy can also help. If the result is positive, immediate treatment can begin before the baby is born to prevent HIV transmission.
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In What Circumstances Is Mother
There are complex reasons why children may be at a greater risk of HIV infection in poorer countries. Some may not have very good medical facilities, or it might be hard to offer people good medical care.
Some mothers-to-be dont find out about their HIV while theyre pregnant or breastfeeding. Others might find it hard to cope or have no way of accessing the medical help that they need.
Sometimes its just not possible to prevent HIV being transmitted from a mother to her baby.
Hiv/aids In Pregnant Women And Infants
Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that causes AIDS. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune system. As the immune system weakens, the person is at risk of getting life-threatening infections and cancers. When that happens, the illness is called AIDS.
HIV can be transmitted to the fetus or the newborn during pregnancy, during labor or delivery, or by breastfeeding.
This article is about HIV/AIDS in pregnant women and infants.
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Reducing Hiv Transmission Risk During Pregnancy
For HIV-positive women, ways to reduce the risk of transmission include:
- Taking antiretroviral medications before conception to reduce your viral load . The lower the viral load, the lower the risk of transmission to your unborn baby.
- Start antiretroviral HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV .
Being on treatment and having a low, or undetectable, viral load improves your immune system and health throughout pregnancy.
HIV-positive pregnancy today, with specialised care, is the same as HIV-negative pregnancy. Pregnancy does not make HIV progress any faster.
How Hiv Is Transmitted
HIV is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluid of someone who is infected with the virus.
The three main ways HIV is passed to a very young child are:
Among teens, the virus is most commonly spread through:
- unprotected sex
- sharing needles used to inject drugs or other substances
In very rare cases, HIV has also been transmitted by direct contact with an open wound of an infected person and through blood transfusions. Since 1985, the U.S. blood supply has been carefully screened for HIV.
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Can Hiv Be Passed To An Unborn Baby In Pregnancy Or Through Breastfeeding
Yes, it’s possible for HIV to be passed from a woman to her baby.
This can happen:
- during labour and birth
- through breastfeeding
But if a woman is receiving treatment for HIV during pregnancy and doesn’t breastfeed her baby, it’s possible to greatly reduce the risk of the baby getting HIV.
All pregnant women in the UK are offered a blood test as part of their antenatal screening.
This will test for 4 infectious diseases:
Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv
Although there may be no immediate physical signs of HIV infection at birth, if untreated, they might appear within 2 to 3 months after a child is born. Kids who are born with HIV can develop opportunistic infections, which are illnesses that can develop in weakened immune systems, such as Pneumocystisjirovicii pneumonia .
An untreated child with HIV may also get more severe bouts of other common childhood infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus infection, which generally causes mild illness in most kids. In developing countries, tuberculosis has been a particularly common problem and often the cause of death of children and adults living with HIV.
A baby born with HIV infection most likely will appear healthy. But within 2 to 3 months after birth, an infected baby might begin to appear sick, with poor weight gain, repeated fungal mouth infections , enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen, neurological problems, and multiple bacterial infections, including pneumonia.
Teens and young adults who contract HIV usually show no symptoms at the time of infection. In fact, it may take up to 10 years or more for symptoms to show. During this time, they can pass on the virus without even knowing they have it themselves. Once the symptoms of AIDS appear, they can include rapid weight loss, intense fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, persistent diarrhea, night sweats, or pneumonia. They, too, will be susceptible to life-threatening opportunistic infections.
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
You and your health care professional will discuss things you can do to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby. They include the following:
Take a combination of anti-HIV drugs during your pregnancy as prescribed.
Have your baby by cesarean delivery if lab tests show that your level of HIV is high.
Take anti-HIV drugs during labor and delivery as needed.
Give anti-HIV drugs to your baby after birth.
Do not breastfeed.
Treatment during pregnancy has two goals: 1) to protect your own health, and 2) to help prevent passing HIV to your fetus. Many combinations of drugs are used to manage HIV infection. This is called a “drug regimen.” Anti-HIV drugs decrease the amount of HIV in the body.
Drugs used to treat HIV infection may cause side effects. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and muscle aches. Less common side effects include anemia, liver damage, and bone problems such as osteoporosis. While unusual, drugs used to treat HIV may affect the development of the fetus. However, not taking medication greatly increases the chances of passing the virus to your fetus.
Your viral load is the amount of HIV that you have in your body.
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Can You Be Born With Hiv
HIV-positive women have been managing their infections silently for decades. In the 1980s, medical research discovered a revolutionary new treatment that changed everything: highly active antiretroviral therapy or ART. Now known simply as ART it has revolutionized care of those living with HIV/AIDS by providing patients access to drugs which can control symptoms and reduce viral load without toxic side effects.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv/aids
Some people may develop a flu-like illness within a month after exposure to the HIV virus. But many people do not develop any symptoms at all when they first become infected. In addition, the symptoms that do appear, which usually disappear within a week to a month, are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. These may include:
Enlarged lymph nodes
Persistent or severe symptoms may not surface for 10 years or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within 2 years in children born with an HIV infection. This asymptomatic period of the infection is highly variable from person to person. But, during the asymptomatic period, HIV is actively infecting and killing cells of the immune system. Its most obvious effect is a decline in the blood levels of CD4+ T cells a key immune system infection fighter. The virus initially disables or destroys these cells without causing symptoms.
As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to surface. The following are the most common complications, or symptoms, of AIDS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Some people develop frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease known as shingles. Children may have delayed development or failure to thrive.
What Happens If Your Baby Has Hiv
If your babys newborn screening result for HIV/AIDS was positive, your babys doctor or the state screening program will contact you to arrange for your child to have additional testing. During the newborn screening test, your babys dried blood spot was checked for HIV antibodies, which are proteins the body makes
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